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NASFAT FRIDAY WEEKLY SERMON FOR RABI’ THAANI 5, 1440 (DECEMBER 14, 2018)

TOPIC: ISLAM AND VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Audhu billah minash shaytanir rajeem Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem. Alhamdu lil laahi Rabbil aalameen. Was salatu was salamu ala rasuluhee al kareem.

Human rights advocates agree that, sixty years after its issue, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still more a dream than reality. Violations exist in every part of the world. For example, Amnesty International’s 2009 World Report and other sources show that individuals are:

  • Tortured or abused in at least 81 countries
  • Face unfair trials in at least 54 countries
  • Restricted in their freedom of expression in at least 77 countries

Not only that, but women and children in particular are marginalized in numerous ways, the press is not free in many countries, and dissenters are silenced, too often permanently. While some gains have been made over the course of the last six decades, human rights violations still plague the world today.

In giving examples, Article 3- The Right to live free is one which has been violated. “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

An estimated 6,500 people were killed in 2007 in armed conflict in Afghanistan—nearly half being noncombatant civilian deaths at the hands of insurgents. Hundreds of civilians were also killed in suicide attacks by armed groups. In Brazil in 2007, according to official figures, police killed at least 1,260 individuals—the highest total to date. All incidents were officially labeled “acts of resistance” and received little or no investigation. Islam gives a code of prosecuting battles which include that children, women and men who are non-combatant should not be attacked in wars. The Qur’an also talked about the sanctity of the human life.

On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.

 

Another article is that of NO Slavery. “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

In northern Uganda, the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) guerrillas have kidnapped 20,000 children over the past twenty years and forced them into service as soldiers or sexual slaves for the army. In Guinea-Bissau, children as young as five are trafficked out of the country to work in cotton fields in southern Senegal or as beggars in the capital city. In Ghana, children five to fourteen are tricked with false promises of education and future into dangerous, unpaid jobs in the fishing industry. Islam condemned slavery in all its forms. The Quran verse90:13 which enjoins freeing slaves is not but a prohibition of slavery. Other relevant portions of the Qur’an are found in 2:77,2:221 and 4:92.

The Freedom of Thought is the 18th Article. “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

In Myanmar, the military junta crushed peaceful demonstrations led by monks, raided and closed monasteries, confiscated and destroyed property, shot, beat and detained protesters, and harassed or held hostage the friends and family members of the protesters. In China, Falun Gong practitioners were singled out for torture and other abuses while in detention. Christians were persecuted for practicing their religion outside state-sanctioned channels.

Islam preaches freedom of religion and that is why Allah has designed the world to be populated by people of differing faiths. The Qur’an Hud: 118 says that if Allah had willed he would have made all people of the same faith. Relevant to this is he chapter on Disbelievers where Allah commanded the Prophet to tell those who rejected his faith ‘for you is your way and for me is mine. Q109:1-6

Islam’s contribution to human rights is best appreciated when viewed against the backdrop of world history as well as the realities of modern times. Social, racial, gender, and religious inequities continue to exist. Economic and social disparities have resulted in oppression of the lower classes; racial prejudices have been the cause of subjugation and enslavement of people with darker skin; women have been weighed down by chauvinistic attitudes, and pervasive attitudes of religious superiority have led to widespread persecution of people with different beliefs.

When considering the question of human rights and Islam, it is important to distinguish the divinely prescribed rights of Islam from potential misinterpretation and misapplication by imperfect human beings. Just as Western societies still fight against racism and discrimination, many Muslim societies struggle to fully implement the rights outlined in Islam.

May Allah make it easy for us.

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